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Report on the First Ministers' meeting at Meech Lake, May 1, 1987
Mr. Speaker, I rise to report to the House on the meeting of First Ministers yesterday at Meech Lake.
I am honoured to inform the House that at about 10 p.m. last night the Premiers and I reached unanimous agreement in principle on a Constitutional package which will allow Quebec to rejoin the Canadian constitutional family.
This agreement enhances the Confederation bargain and strengthens, I believe the federal nature of Canada. Although it remains to be formalized, it represents in the judgement of First Ministers, of all political stripes, from all areas of the country, an historic accomplishment.
The Meech Lake Agreement springs from the Canadian tradition of honourable compromise, and is a tribute to the statesmanship and leadership of all First Ministers demonstrated yesterday at Meech Lake.
Our task, simply put, was to settle a constitutional impasse which was incompletely resolved in 1981. Our task was to attempt to reconcile Quebec's distinct needs with the interests of all other provinces and the good of the country as a whole.
Mr. Speaker, at this time I am pleased to table the statement of principles that constitute the Meech Lake Agreement.
The essence of the Agreement is as follows:
Mr. Speaker, the Meech Lake Agreement is good for Canada, and good for Canadians. It will unblock the Constitutional reform process and enable Canadians to turn their attention to other issues such as Senate reform and fisheries.
Mr. Speaker, this agreement represents the best features of a vital Federal system, one which I believe responds to the aspirations of Canadians in every corner of the country. It reflects a spirit of partnership -- and not one of endless federal-provincial power struggles.
The work of nation-building goes on.
Officials will shortly begin drafting a Constitutional text which reflects the Meech Lake Agreement.
I shall be convening a conference of First Ministers within weeks, the purpose of which will be to seek formal agreement. On the assumption a formal agreement is reached at this conference, the Constitutional amending process will proceed.
An amending resolution will be tabled in Parliament and in the Legislative Assembly of each province. Proclamation would follow once all the resolutions have been approved.
Mr. Speaker, Sir Wilfrid Laurier once said: "The governing motive of my life has been to harmonize the diverse elements which compose our country." Surely that is the wish of every member, on all sides of this House. That is our policy. That is our purpose -- building a stronger Canada for all Canadians.
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Source: Mulroney, Martin Brian. Report on the First Ministers' meeting at Meech Lake. Ottawa: Office of the Prime Minister, 1987. 4 p.